Eastern Religions and Traditions
most studies consider Buddha as a religious leader, I would prefer
to consider him as a scientist.
This is also probably true about the magicians and the
alchemists who led to the study of the universe and started the
science as we know of today. Buddha said:
not believe in anything, no matter where you heard it, or who said
it, even if it has been handed down over the generations, or has
come from your own imagination, unless after careful consideration
it agrees with your own sense of reason, and is good for the
welfare of all beings, only then should you believe it and follow
idea of reincarnation in a scientific form was first stated by
Buddha. Until that
time it was based on the experience of the families who saw their
ancestral traits in their progenies, which we easily explain in
terms of the DNA transmission.
It can be stated with confidence that the origin of the
concept of reincarnation as we know today came from Buddha.
Buddhist concept of reincarnation differs from others in that
there is no eternal "soul", "spirit" or
"self" but only a "stream of consciousness"
that links life with life. The actual process of change from one
life to the next is called punarbhava (Sanskrit) or punabbhava (Pāli),
literally "becoming again", or more briefly bhava,
"becoming", and some English-speaking Buddhists prefer
the term "rebirth" or "re-becoming" to render
this term as they take "reincarnation" to imply a fixed
entity that is reborn.
is a combination of name (nama) and form (rupa) and is formed by five aggregates
(Panchakkandha) the five skandha
sutras describe five aggregates:
or "matter" (Skt., Pāli rūpa; Tib.
gzugs): external and internal matter. Externally, rupa is the
physical world. Internally, rupa includes the material body and
the physical sense organs.
or "feeling" (Skt., Pāli vedanā;
Tib. tshor-ba): sensing an object[g] as either pleasant or
unpleasant or neutral.
"cognition", or "discrimination"
(Skt. samjñā, Pāli saññā, Tib. 'du-shes):
registers whether an object is recognized or not (for instance,
the sound of a bell or the shape of a tree).
formations", "impulses", "volition", or
(Skt. samskāra, Pāli saṅkhāra, Tib. 'du-byed):
all types of mental habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices,
compulsions, and decisions triggered by an object.
or "discernment" (Skt.
vijñāna, Pāli viññāṇa, Tib.
Buddhist doctrine and metaphysics, the word skandha refers to the five
"aggregate" elements that are said to comprise the
five aggregates are:
(rūpa), feeling (vedanā), perception(samjñā),
consciousness (vijñāna, Pāliviññāṇa), and
reasoning (vāsanā or samskāra).
term skandha can also mean "compound, mass, heap, bundle, or
the Pali canon, the aggregates are causally related as follows:
Form (rupa) arises from experientially irreducible
Formin terms of an external object (such as a sound) and
its associated sense organ (such as the ear)gives rise to
From the contact of form and consciousness arise the three
mental (nāma) aggregates of feeling (vedanā), perception
(saññā), and mental formation
this scheme, physical form, the mental aggregates, and
consciousness are mutually dependent. Other Buddhist literature
has described the aggregates as arising in a linear or progressive
fashion, from form to feeling to perception to mental formations
to consciousness. (Trungpa 2001, 3637) In regards to these
The first five sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body)
are derivatives of form. The sixth sense organ (mind) is part of
The first five sense objects (visible forms, sound, smell,
taste, touch) are also derivatives of form. The sixth sense object
(mental object) includes form, sensation, perception, and mental
The six sense consciousness is the basis for consciousness.
Buddhist literature (such as the Abhidhamma) speaks of one
physical aggregate (form), three mental factors (sensation,
perception, and mental formations) and consciousness. Contemporary
writers (such as Trungpa Rinpoche and Red Pine) sometimes
conceptualize the five aggregates as "one physical and four
aggregate of feeling (vedanā), aggregate of perception (saññā),aggregate
of determination (sankhāra),aggregate of consciousness (viññāna)
together constitute the nāma while the aggregate of matter
constitute the rūpa.
five components taken together are called the panca upādānakkhanda
or the five holding aggregates.
forces are working together in a flux of momentary change; they
are never the same for two consecutive moments. They are the
component forces of the psycho-physical life.
of matter (Rūpa)
to the Buddha, man is not a simple conglomeration of material
elements but a conglomeration of material elements that have the
power of grasping. This conglomeration can be read in two senses:
of the 4 physical elements- apō (fluidity), thejo (heat),
vayo (motion) and patavi (solidity);
of the body and sense organs which give rise to the holding
aggregate of matter (upādana-rūpa)
of feelings or sensations (Vedanā)
is of two types, physical and mental.
Both physical and mental feelings are pleasant (sukha),
unpleasant (dukkha) or neutral (adukkhamasukha).
These feelings or sensations are experienced through the
six sense organs. Some are pleasant and others unpleasant.
Man tends to cling or grasp (upadana) on to the pleasant
sensations leading to greed (raganusaya). The unpleasant leads to
revulsion (patiganusaya). These
experiences eventually leads to intentional activities of a person
giving rise to kamma. The Buddhist texts list 52 such volitional
activities. The most fundamental volitional activity is Sākkayaditthi
or the idea of self.
Consciousness may exist having matter as its means (rūpapāyam),
matter as its object (rūparāmmanam), matter as its
support (rūpapatittham), and seeking delight, it may grow,
increase and develop, or consciousness may exist having sensations
as its means
.or perceptions as its means
or dispositions as
its means, dispositions as its object; dispositions as its
support, and seeking delight , it may grow, increase and
develop. (Mallikarachchi, 2003:40)
is thirst or craving, causing the renewal of existence,
accompanied by sensual delight, seeking satisfaction now here, now
there- that is to say, the craving for the gratification of
passions, or the craving for a future life, or the craving for
success in this present life. This is the noble truth containing
the origin of suffering. (Mallikarachchi, 2003:21)
(Anatma) or soul-lessness
Buddhist doctrine of rebirth should be distinguished from the
theory of reincarnation which implies the transmigration of a soul
and its invariable material rebirth. Buddhism denies the existence
of an unchanging or eternal soul nor the existence of a creator
If you look for the self within the body, you can not find it
there, since the body itself is dependent upon its parts.
If you look for
the self within the mind, you can not find it there, since the
mind can only be said to exist in relation to external objects;
therefore the mind is also dependent upon causes and
conditions outside of itself.
since the self can not be said to exist within the body or mind,
it is said to be "empty of inherent existence".
Hence, since the self can not be said to exist
within the body or mind, it is said to be "empty of inherent
to Buddhism there are dimensions which are material and dimensions
which are non-material which are interacting with each other.
These form the non-material parts of man. Mind is a complex
compound of fleeting mental states.
consists of three phases --
arising or genesis (uppada)
static or development (thiti), and
cessation or dissolution (bhanga).
This process is repeated in time.
Thus each momentary consciousness is an ongoind process in
time whereby some for life-process, and spiritual energy is
transmitted in time. The beginning of the one is the starting
point for the next state of existence.
This would mean that what is existing at any point in time
is nothing but a state which depended on the preceding state.
The subsequent thought moment is neither absolutely the
same as its predecessor -- since that which goes to make it up is
not identical -- nor entirely another -- being the same continuity
of kamma energy. Here there is no identical being but there is an
identity in process. This
argument is also true of the human body. Buddhism teaches that
birth, death and rebirth are part of the continuing process of
change. This is similar to the continuous process of growth, decay
and replacement of cells in one's body. According to medical
experts, every seven years, all body cells are replaced. In the
body and mind the next moment is decided by the preceding moments
and the states. Every
moment there is birth, every moment there is death. The arising of
one thought-moment means the passing away of another
thought-moment and vice versa. In the course of one life-time
there is this series of momentary birth and rebirth.
is the cause, what is the reason, O Lord," questioned he,
"that we find amongst mankind the short-lived and long-lived,
the healthy and the diseased, the ugly and beautiful, those
lacking influence and the powerful, the poor and the rich, the
low-born and the high-born, and the ignorant and the wise?"
replied: "All living beings have actions (Karma) as their
own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman,
their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and
a commentary on the Abhidharma, states:
on this difference in Karma appears the differences in the birth
of beings, high and low, base and exalted, happy and miserable.
Depending on the difference in Karma appears the difference in the
individual features of beings as beautiful and ugly, high-born or
low born, well-built or deformed. Depending on the difference in
Karma appears the difference in worldly conditions of beings, such
as gain and loss, and disgrace, blame and praise, happiness and
most important factor, but not the only one, influencing where we
will be the next moment and what sort of life we shall have, is
kamma. Kamma is the Pali word which in Sanskrit is called Karma.
The word kamma means 'action'.
.Kamma is intentional action, a deed done deliberately
through body, speech or mind.
It refers to our intentional mental actions.This is what
changes the inherited Karma. This is based on the free will of the
person. Karma can be
good and bad volition (kusala Akusala Centana).
What we are is determined
by how we have thought and acted in the past. Likewise, how
we think and act now will influence how we will be in the future.
This is what produce the rebirth and what form and where this
rebirth will be.
to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (niyama) which
operate in the physical and mental realms. They are natural laws
and does not assume a Spiritual Supernatural God.
the Physical Realm:
- Utu Niyama - physical inorganic order
All physical material world are part of this order.
- Bija Niyama - order of germs and seeds (physical organic
- Karma Niyama - order of act and result.
- Dhamma Niyama - order of the norm, the natural phenomena.
the Mental Realm
- Citta Niyama - order or mind or psychic law, e.g., processes
of consciousness, arising and perishing of consciousness,
constituents of consciousness, power of mind, etc., including
telepathy, telaesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition,
clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-reading and such other
psychic phenomena which are inexplicable to modern science.
does not believe in the existence of Spiritual Realm.
declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition is Karma. Having willed one
acts by body, speech, and thought." (Anguttara Nikaya)
deeds earn a person merits (Anisamsa) and bad deeds
earn a person demerits (Adinaya).
volitional action of individuals changes the future from its
inherited karma. The
future is changed by volitional acts.
During the course of life it is these acts that decides the
the working of Karma there are maleficent and beneficent forces
and conditions to counteract and support this self-operating law.
Birth (gati) time or condition (kala) substratum of rebirth or
showing attachment to rebirth (upadhi) and effort (payoga) act as
such powerful aids and hindrances to the fruition of Karma. On the
specific level, karma refers to those actions which spring from
the intention (cetanā) of a sentient being.
Karmic actions are compared to a seed that will inevitably
ripen into a result or fruition (referred to as vipāka or
phala in Sanskrit and Pali).
The following is taken from the Buddhism.Net which gives the
classification in detail:
to their different functions, Karama is classified into 4 kinds.
Reproductive Karma - Karma
that shapes up the future birth of a person is called Reproductive
Karma. It is the last thought of a person that determines who he
would be in his next birth.
Supportive Karma - Assists or
maintains the Reproductive Karma, from ones conception to his
death. It is neither good nor bad.
Obstructive Karma or Counteractive Karma - Weakens,
interrupts and retards the fruition of the Reproductive Karma. For
instance, a person born with a good Reproductive Karma
may be subjected to various ailments, thus preventing him from enjoying
the blissful results of his good actions. An animal, on the
other hand, who is born with a bad Reproductive Karma
may lead a comfortable life by getting good food, lodging, as a
result of his good counteractive or obstructive Karma preventing
the fruition of the evil Reproductive Karma.
Destructive Karma - A
powerful opposing Karma of the past which nullifies the potential
energy of the Reproductive Karma. This is moreeffective than
the Supportive Karma and Obstructive Karma. Destructive Karma may
be good or bad.Devadatta is the most suitable example to show how
the above karma works. He attempted several times to kill Buddha
and also made a rift in the Sangha community which are great
sins.His good Reproductive Karma made
him born to a Royal family. His continued comfort and
prosperity were due to the action of the Supportive
Karma.The Counteractive or Obstructive Karma came
into operation when he was subjected to much humiliation as a
result of his being banished from the Sangha community.Finally the Destructive
Karma brought his life to a miserable end.
from the Function, there is another classification of Karma
according to the priority of Effect
Weighty Karma -
These karmas are weighty or serious and result in this birth or
the next for certain. These may be good or bad. From good Karma,
mental state of Jhana (ecstasy & absorption) could be
obtained; from bad karma (Killing ones own mother, Killing
ones own father, killing an Arahant, harassing and wounding the
Buddha, creating a rift in the Sangha community, which belong to
the heinous panchananthariya karma and Permanent Scepticism
) one gets very evil bad results. Even a person who have obtained
Jhana earlier, does one of the above heinous crimes later, his
Jhana would be obliterated by the powerful evil karma.
lost his psychic power and was born in an evil state, because he
wounded the Buddha and caused a rift
in the Sangha community.
Ajatasattu would have attained the first stage of Sainthood (Sotapanna)
if he had not killed his father. In this case the powerful evil
Karma acted as an obstacle to his gaining Sainthood.
Asanna Karma (Death-Proximate Karma)
Karma which one does or remembers immediately before the moment of
dying. This plays a great part in determining the future birth of
that person. But, he will not be exempted from the effects of his
good and evil deeds which he has accumulated during his lifetime.
If a bad person dies happily remembering or doing a good deed he
receives a good birth; but, he would not be exempted from the
effects of the evil deeds which he accumulated during his
lifetime. They will have there due effect as occasions arise.
Likewise, a good person may die unhappily remembering or doing one
bad deed in his entire lifetime and receive a bad birth. But, he
would not be exempted from the effects of the good deeds which he
accumulated during his lifetime. They will have there due effect
as occasions arise.
to a story, a certain executioner who casually happened to give
some alms to the Venerable Sariputta remembered this good act at
the dying moment and was born in a state of bliss.
Mallika, the consort of King Kosala, who gave the one and only
unrivalled alms giving (Asadisa dana), even a Buddha may receive
only once in his life time, remembering the only lie she had
uttered to her husband to cover some misbehaviour, in her
deathbed, suffered for seven days in hell, in a state of misery
before being born in heaven.
Habitual (Accina) Karma
one habitually performs and recollects. Habits whether good or bad
form the character of a person. At unguarded moments one often
lapses into ones habitual mental mindset. This usually happens
at ones death-moment.
a butcher, who earned his living by slaughtering pigs died yelling
like a pig. King Dutthagamini of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was in the
habit of giving alms to the Bhikkhus (monks) before he took his
own meals. It was his habitual Karma that gladdened him at the
dying moment and gave him birth in the Tusita heaven.
Reserve Or Cumulative (Katatta) Karma
actions that are not included in the aforementioned and those
actions soon forgotten belong to this category. This is, the
reserve fund of a particular being.
from the function and The priority of Effect, there
are two other classifications of Karma.
According to the time it takes to give the effects.
- a) Immediately Effective Karma (Dittadhammavedaniya
- b) Subsequently Effective
Karma (Uppapajjavedaniya karma)
- c) Indefinitely Effective
Karma (Aparapariyavedaniya karma)
- d) Defunct or Ineffective Karma
Immediately Effective Karma (Dittadhammavedaniya
moral and immoral actions of a person which produce their due
effect in this very life. if these are not operated in this life,
they become Defunct or Ineffective Karma (Ahosi karma).
Subsequently Effective Karma (Uppapajjavedaniya
moral and immoral actions of a person which produce their due
effect in their next birth. These too, if not operated in
this life, become Defunct or Ineffective Karma (Ahosi
Effective Karma (Aparapariyavedaniya
moral and immoral actions of a person which produce their due
effect in all the lives until they attain Nirvana. Even
a Buddha or an Arahant cannot evade this class of Karma.
Defunct or Ineffective Karma (Ahosi
moral and immoral actions of a person which do not produce
their due effect in this birth or in the subsequent birth
According to the plane in which the effects take place
every action, be it of body, speech or mind, which is called
Kamma determines our destination. The consequences of those
actions, which is called Vipaka takes us through this
eternal samsara whether we like it or not. It is those
Kamma Vipaka which decide, on which realm (plane of
existence) we should be born.
to Buddha, there are three planes of existence in which
there are thirty one realms a being can be born.
Three Planes of Existence and the number of realms in them :
(World of Desire) / (Sensuous World)
by sensual pleasures. There are eleven realms. 4 are woeful realms
and 7 are happy realms. The animal world, ghost (Pretha)
world, demon (Asura) world and hell are the 4 woeful
realms. Human realm is a happy realm because it is in this realm
that one can learn Dhamma and end suffering. Rest of the six are
(World of Form) / (Fine Material World)
who see the disadvantages of sense-impressions may cultivate jhana
; they can be reborn in higher heavenly planes which are not
sensuous planes. Those who attain rupa-jhana can be reborn in
rupa-brahma planes where there are less sense-impressions. There
are sixteen rupa-brahma planes in all. One of them is the
asanna-satta plane where there is only rupa, not nama. Those who
have attained the highest stage of rupa- jhana and who wish to
have no consciousness at all, can be reborn without citta; for
them there is only a body. These beings have seen the
disadvantages of consciousness; even happiness is a disadvantage,
since it does not last.
(World of Formlessness) / (Immaterial World)
who see the disadvantages of rupa cultivate arupa-jhana. Those who
attain arupa-jhana can be reborn in arupa-brahma planes where
there are no rupas. There are four arupa-brahma planes. Beings
born in these planes have only nama, not rupa. People may wonder
how there can be beings which only have rupa or beings which only
have nama. If we can experience different characteristics of nama-elements
and rupa- elements as they appear one at a time and if we have
realized that they are only elements which arise because of
conditions, not a being or a person, not self, we will have no
doubt that, when there are the appropriate conditions, there can
be rupa without nama and nama without rupa.
the body cease to function, mind does not cease to exist and the
kamma finds an alternate body that befits its last state of
existence. Thus it is the last moments that particularly decide
the next body and place of birth.
is the continuity
of the person after death,
while Rebirth is the continuity
of karmic tendencies - not the person
- after death. In
contrast to the idea of continuity of person after death,
Buddhism teaches continuity of life.
Buddhism did not believe in reincarnation but in rebirth.
Buddha describes reincarnation as transmigration.
Buddha compared it to lighting successive candles using the
flame of the preceding candle. Although each flame is causally
connected to the one that came before it, it is not the same
flame. It burns and produce light of its own through the present
source of fuel available.
as time went on, as in the case of Tibetan Buddhism, reincarnation
was indeed brought in to this sect as affirmed by the
reincarnation of Dalai Lamas as a means of selecting the head of
the Tibetan Buddhist sect. The process of choosing a child as the
reincarnation of a deceased Lama is based on a judgment of a
committee of monks - about how the examined child reacted to
personal items of the deceased Lama. The reaction of the child is
considered as an indication of
a memory of himself in a past existence.
entered in Tibet from India only by fifth century AD during
the reign of King Thothori Nyantsen (5th century), when a
basket of Buddhist scriptures arrived in Tibet from India. Written
in Sanskrit, they were not translated into Tibetan during the
reign of king Songtsän Gampo (618-649 AD)
Evidently Hindu influence predominated in this sect.
As a result Tibetan Buddhism seems to affirm reincarnation
rather than rebirth in direct opposition to the teachings of
concept of reincarnation does not fit within the Buddhist Law of
Impermanence, which teaches that ones current self is
transient, and that there is nothing called
soul. If there
is nothing called the soul, the personality, it
evidently does not survive.
function that leads us to believe in a permanent self is called
the Mano, seventh consciousness...operating in the name of
self-preservation and expansion. It seems to correspond to the
Western idea of the ego. (Ikeda
:Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and
death, p.156. )
is the law of moral causation. It is action and reaction in the
ethical realm. It is natural law that every action produces a
certain effect. So if one performs wholesome actions such as
donating money to charitable organizations, happiness will ensue.
On the other hand, if one performs unwholesome actions, such as
killing a living being, the result will be suffering. This is the
law of cause and effect at work. In this way, the effect of past
karma determines the nature of one's present situation in life.
to the seed that is sown,
is the fruit you reap
door of good of will gather good results
door of evil reaps evil results.
you plant a good seed well,
you will enjoy the good fruits."
is a law itself. But it does not follow that there should be a
lawgiver. The law of Karma, too, demands no lawgiver. It operates
in its own field without the intervention of an external,
Silacara says: "Unseen it passes whithersoever the conditions
appropriate to its visible manifestation are present. Here showing
itself as a tiny gnat or worm, there making its presence known in
the dazzling magnificence of a Deva or an Archangel's existence.
When one mode of its manifestation ceases it merely passes on, and
where suitable circumstances offer, reveals itself afresh in
another name or form."
The twelve nidanas
and their causal relationships can be expressed as follows:
Ignorance as condition, Mental Formations arise
Avidyā as condition, Saṅkhāra (Saṃskāra)
Mental Formations as condition, Consciousness arises
Saṅkhāra (Saṃskāra) as
Consciousness as condition, Mind and Matter arise
as condition, Nāmarūpa
Mind and Matter as condition, Sense Gates arise
as condition, Ṣaḍāyatana
Sense Gates as condition, Contact arises
Ṣaḍāyatana as condition, Sparśa
Contact as condition, Feeling arises
as condition, Vedanā
Feeling as condition, Craving arises
as condition, Tṛṣṇā arises
Craving as condition, Clinging arises
as condition, Upādāna
Clinging as condition, Becoming arises
as condition, Bhava
Becoming as a condition, Birth arises
Bhava as condition,
Birth as condition, Aging and Dying arise
Jāti as condition, Jarāmaraṇa arises
are six realms in which one may be reborn after death. All these
realms are intertwined and forms a unity of cosmos. They are the
realms of gods, the demigods, human beings, animals, hungry ghosts
and the hells. These are just general categories and within each,
there exist many sub-categories. The six realms of existence
include three relatively happy states, and three relatively
miserable states. The realms of the gods, the demigods and human
beings are considered to contain more happiness and less
suffering. The realms of animals, hungry ghosts and the hells are
considered to be relatively miserable because living beings there
suffer more from fear, hunger, thirst, heat, cold and pain.
Buddha pointed out that whenever one is reborn, whether as a human
being, as an animal, or as a god, none of these states of
existence is permanent. As
long as there is adherence and desire, the cycle of death and
birth will continue. Nirvana
is when all actions are done without desire and attachment which
permanently terminates this cycle.
all the six realms, the realm of human beings is considered the
most desirable. In the realm of human beings, the conditions for
attaining Nirvana are better.